This week, I want to refer you to a guest blog post I have up today at Stoneboat journal’s website. It’s about the continuing value I find in the community I became part of as a student in the Antioch University – Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing program. I graduated almost two years ago and the relationships I developed in the program continue to have a powerful effect on my work and my life every day.
On a related note, I was recently part of a virtual conversation among four women poets who blog. We were convened for the month-long conversation by Sarah Busse, co-editor of Verse Wisconsin, and she’ll be working our wide-ranging discussion into an article for the magazine that will appear this spring. (If you don’t know Verse Wisconsin, you should! It’s a print/online journal with different content in each format.)
One of the topics that came up was the risks we take as poet-bloggers in posting our poetry online. I talked about the moment when I put a poem up on Facebook and a friend — a grad student studying artistic control and intellectual property issues at just that moment — noted that I had just “given” the Facebook corporation my poem. The four of us poet-bloggers decided that we would share our work online, crosspost each other’s blogs, and guest blog on each other’s sites, all in the name of using the internet better as poets and in building the online poetry community.
So, please go read my post at Stoneboat’s blog (and get to know Stoneboat and subscribe!) and also read this related poem here. It’s the poem I wrote to celebrate the graduation of my MFA program cohort, the Carnelians, in June 2011.
We come to this by degrees
the honorary juris doctors awarded
for conduct, meritorious or otherwise,
in the trial courts of opinion.
We come to this in the best way
we know how,
even so, even so,
with ex-husbands trailing,
and chipped teeth uncorrected,
with sagging jeans
and pockets of uncertainty.
All hail the alma mater.
We’ve tasted this mother spirit,
the start of everything,
sourdough, milky vinegar,
porridge and tincture,
essence and reduction,
attar of roses.
And so now
here we go,
I saw a young man on his bike after work
and I thought, “That is us,”
coming out of the grocery store parking lot,
a clutch of 9-dollar daffodils heaped over the handlebars,
He’s hoping she will be moved,
that he has sounded out the right words to say,
clear as a bell,
hoping that he has some kind of grip, finally,
on how this cycle works,
3rd gear into 2nd into 1st,
up the potholed hill to her house,
and every light goes green,
green as a daffodil stem gorged with sap,
expecting the future.
Asphalt cakes up the curves of his loafers
and he’s got gear grease on his khakis.
He’ll track his travels onto her carpet
and not notice,
and not care,
but even so,
even so, she might smile,
on him, or on his offering,
on his carnelian heart,
on his teeth flossed and brushed,
on his crisp-parted hair, his avid face,
on these flowers with their spines broken
by a sudden right at Jackson Street.
red, flossed, and flustered,
a weekday suitor.
He’ll lock up the bike
and climb her stairs and see,
does she smile?
Does he get the girl?
I can’t tell you
but I can tell you
that he brought everything to bear,
all his previous degrees of relative success
an aspiring master of the finest art.